Five tips to help you take better photos of shoes

Have you ever taken a photo of a shoe and realised it looked like a banana? Not yellow but distorted and bent looking?

If you sell your shoes on a marketplace, take photos of your outfits for social media, or have your own shoe website, you will need to know how to photograph shoes well.

Shoes are difficult to photograph for numerous reasons. Their asymmetric shape can mean they look distorted if you use the wrong camera lens, and it’s difficult to get the colours looking accurate so people know what they are buying. Sandals can pose more problems, as their straps flop down and it’s hard to find a flattering angle to shoot flat sandals on feet.

Here are five tips to help you take better shoe photos.

1) Use two lights

If you have tried to photograph shoes with only one light source, your shots have probably included unsightly shadows. You may also have found that some details of the shoe were clearly visible, and others weren’t. Ring lights are good for photos and videos of faces, but not so good for shoes.

To avoid losing detail and to eliminate shadows, light your shoe using two lights. Ideally these would be lights or lamps with the same brightness as each other. These could be professional photography lights or two bedside lamps if that’s what you have available. 

Place the lights a little in front of the shoe, one on each side pointing diagonally in towards the shoe. Make sure your lights are the same distance away from the shoe as each other. Measure that if needed. You will be amazed at how each light eliminates the other’s shadow.

2) Don’t photograph shoes on the floor

If you try to photograph shoes on the floor, it is very hard to capture a good angle. Even if you lie on the floor, positioning your phone or camera low enough is tricky. 

Place your shoes on a table to achieve better results. If you don’t like the way your table looks, you can always remove the background from your shoe shot using Canva Pro or another app. This will leave just the shoe with a white background which looks professional.

The two exceptions to the floor rule are when you are photographing the top of a shoe from above, or if you are shooting flat lay images with multiple products or props. 

3) Be consistent

If you are photographing several shoes and displaying them online, being consistent with your shoe photography can give your brand, website or profile a professional look.

Consider always shooting your shoes from the same angle, and keeping the background and lighting consistent. Making these small changes can improve the way customers and followers perceive the products, and increase their trust in your personal or professional brand. You may even find your shoes sell for more.

4) Phone is fine

Smart phone cameras have drastically improved in the last few years, so you may find your phone is good enough for your shoe photography needs. Experiment with the tips above and the comprehensive guides in the How to Photograph Shoes to Sell course before investing in more advanced equipment.

When you reach the stage when you want more control over the shoe photos you take, consider investing in a digital camera such as a DSLR. These enable you to adjust multiple settings and switch lenses for different types of shoe photography.

5) Do invest in a tripod 

If you buy one piece of equipment, make it a tripod for your phone or camera. This is useful for photographing shoes consistently off feet as it means your camera position doesn’t change between shots. Tripods are also essential for self-timer shots when you are the one modelling your shoes. 

Never try to take photos of shoes on your feet while holding the phone or camera yourself. Your legs will always be closer to the camera than the shoes, which makes your legs look larger than they are and distracts the eye away from the shoes. This can also be an awkward angle that doesn’t flatter the shoes.

The How to Photograph Shoes to Sell course by shoe consultant Susannah Davda and shoe photographer Rhian Cox is the complete guide on how to take better shoe photos.

Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras